If you’re a lover of Borderlands then you already know that Game Informer has a massive twelve-page spread on Borderlands 2, filled with glorious details on the game, its guns, its enemies, its characters, its world and so much more. But wait, Game Informer is an American magazine, what about us UK folk? Don’t panic; if you can’t wait for Game Informer to post everything up on their website, here’s the lowdown on Gearbox’s epic shoot ‘n’ loot game.
Please remember that I only compiled the information and typed out this preview. All credit goes to Game Informer for getting a twelve page exclusive to the game.
Borderlands 2 takes place five years after the events of the first game where our four heroic Vault Hunters defeated the evil Atlas Corporation and shot the crap out of the alien badass. But for all their effort, they were left with nothing and these past five years have seen them split up and scattered across Pandora, simply trying to earn a living. But a new character called Handsome Jack has emerged, and he’s claimed the credit for our hero’s deeds and used the spoils to buy Hyperion, the massive weapon manufacturer. With that he’s taken over Pandora and promised to rid the planet of its seedy underbelly, which just so happens to include all the civilians and the four Vault Hunters. He’s a regular, evil dictator. He also happens to have a loving of blood sport and owns his own arena, and it’s there that the player will pick up his or her controller and get cracking. You’ll be forced to fight through the arena to earn the top prize; a pile of loot. But, in true evil fashion, once you get there Handsome Jack denies you what’s yours and leaves you for dead on an icy Tundra. It’s here that you’re contact by the mysterious Guardian Angel from the first game and told it’s up to you to take Jack down and save Pandora. To do this you’re going to have to track down the original vault hunters and get some help.
Because of this, Gearbox is promising a richer back story for the original vault hunters and more personality now that they’re not playable characters. In the first game the only real personality they had was the way they dressed and the one liners they delivered in combat, but in many respects this allowed many players to form a connection with their avatar, because they could slot their own personality into the shell of whoever you were playing as. But this time it’s up to new characters to take over that role and let out original Vault Hunters show their true colors.
Only one of the new playable characters has been revealed; Salvador, a Gunzerker, is an inane Dwarf whose special skill lets him dual wield ANY weapon for a short period of time. This includes rocket launchers and mini-guns. This ties into the tweaked skill system which returns from the original game. The triple branched system returns, but skills are now promised to be more defined, instead of simply offering stat boosts. One such skills, for Salvador, allows him to increase a guns fire rate the longer a trigger is held. This is great for guns with a slow fire-rate, but it also ties in with his dual-wielding ability, creating an absolutely devastating combination. Gearbox are working hard to ensure that skills such as this will be cross compatible and will offer a wider variety of class builds.
But taking down Handsome Jack won’t be easy, despite your dual-wielding skills; that rich bastard has certainly set himself up as the all-powerful ruler of Pandora, even going so far as to create a huge base on Pandora’s moon which features a massive Hyperion “H” that blots out your view of the moon itself. It’s not just for show though; the games robotic enemies can be delivered from this orbiting eye-sore directly to the battlefield along with supplies.
These enemies are also going to be providing much more of a challenge thanks to some radically improved AI over the first game. Enemies are now more capable of using the environment to their advantage, climbing up on to metal containers and finding vantage points from which to give you seven kinds of hell. Of course, if you’re feeling a bit brutal yourself you can now shoot out their legs and leave them to crawl around the battlefield screaming for help. They’ll also work together now, as proven by a new type of robotic droid that floats above the battlefield deploying bullet reflecting shields and repairing enemy robots.
But the best example of increased enemy intelligence and interaction comes from those pesky Skags. Imagine a group of Skag Pups from the first game; not much of a threat, right? Now imagine them with a Badass Adult Fire Skag. A little more of a problem. But now, in Borderlands 2, that Badass Fire Skag can let out of a stream of fire, engulfing the pups which will then be covered in flame, granting them increase offensive and defensive abilities, as well as resistance to fire damage. It’s a temporary buff, but the Badass Fire Skag has been hanging around the battles outskirts, and once the flames down it calls the pups back and re-ignites them.
This improved AI doesn’t just apply to enemies, though. All NPC’s will now interact more with their environments, move around and generally behave more like real people. Marcus, the shady gun dealer from the first game, will now move around inside and outside of his shop, playing darts to pass the time or commenting on your actions. Brand new mo-cap technology will also ensure that the clunky and stiff animations from the first game are a thing of the past; NPCs and enemies alike will now move like real people, with enemies reacting more naturally to gun fire.
If improved AI and interactions weren’t enough, you can also expect a bigger and wierder variety of enemies to be vying for your blood. One of the most interesting examples was a new type of Bandit called a Nomad Torturer who carries a shield that covers his entire front. Chained to the shield is a midget who soaks up damage, but shoot the chains to free the midget and it’ll turn on its torturer, thereby giving you a chance to flank him and gun him down. Another new enemy is the Bullygong; a giant enemy which can climb around the environment with easy, leal huge distances and throw any object it finds at your face.
You’ll encounter all these new and terrifying enemies during the games more dynamic missions. Gearbox listened to the fans who complained about rigid and repetitive missions from the first game, and they’ve responded by crafted a more dynamic and varied system. The example given to Game Informer was during a mission where the player had to fight through enemies to get to Roland who was being held in a floating prison. Should the player take too long to get to Roland, the cage will get away. You’ll then have to deal with the consequences of your failure in later missions. Another example was during a mission where the player has to transport a beacon; the beacons signal attracts a certain type of creature, and should you happen to let one of these irritating buggers eat the beacon you’ll have to track it down and kill it to get it back. There’s some heavy improvements going on under the hood to make sure that Borderlands 2’s missions are more robust and enjoyable for the player.
A brand new element is also being introduced alongside the games returning fire, acid, shock and explosive elements. It’s called Eridium, but instead of dealing damage it serves to augment the other elements powers. However, it also serves as a super-currency of sorts on Pandora, and Gearbox has hinted that the games most powerful weapons can only be bought with Eridium. The new element is also the main ingredient in power-ups, a mid-battle item that can be activated for an immediate and powerful buff. Enemies will also have access to this new item, but a precise and keen-eyed player will be able to shoot them out of an enemy’s hand before he/she/it has a chance to use it.
Vehicles will be making a return to Borderlands, but will also feature some hefty improvements. These new wheeled wonders will be able to power slide around the landscape and will feature more precise hit detection. Gearbox has also emphasised that vehicles will have four seats so that none of your four-player co-op party (yes, it’s returning) will get left behind in the looting madness. Here’s hoping for some sweet vehicle levels.
Class Mods and Artifacts will also be making a return, and like the rest of the game they’re going to have had a bit of a face-lift. Class Mods remain relatively similar to their Borderlands counterparts, but will now offer a wider variety of class tweaks, meaning plenty more customisation choices for the player. Artifacts have gone from being simple things to an all encompassing items that offer a massive variety of abilities. Gearbox have stated that they’re being used to implement abilities and powers that wouldn’t fit into other systems. There’s nothing set yet, but examples of possible abilities included giving vehicles a health regeneration aura, or making it so firing a bullet had a chance of not depleting any ammo. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for one that gives you a cape and lets you fly.
But I’m saving best for last; the patented and hugely successful random generation system from Borderlands that gave us million of weapon variants has been thrown out the window, along with all the old weapons, and completely redesigned. The basic premise of random generation is still there, but Gearbox has responded to fans criticisms that, despite millions of stat variants, the different manufacturers weapons all tended to look the same and feel the same. Many players also failed to realise that different manufactures had different stat characteristics; such as Jakobs offering the most power and Hyperion offering the best accuracy and weapon stability. Now, each company will feel and look radically different. Each manufacturer will have a distinctive visual style, allowing for immediate identification of a weapons make and its characteristics. For example, Vladof assault rifles, SMGs and rocket launchers,, because the company has the highest rate of fire, will feature spinning barrels. A Vladof assault rife will also feature a AK-47 styled build, in comparison to something like a Dahl which will have a military style look.
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that these manufacturer characteristics can also play an even bigger part on the battlefield through some rather odd ideas. Tediore guns, instead of being reloaded like a normal weapon, are like the disposable razors of the Borderlands world; when you need to reload you simply throw the weapon away where it will then explode (the more ammo left in the gun, the bigger the explosion). A small, hand-held digi-struct (used in the first game to spawn vehicles) will then create a brand new copy of the gun in your hands, fully loaded and ready to fire. It’s an utterly bonkers idea, but one that shows both Gearbox’s inventiveness and humour are still intact.
A new material system will also be implemented into Borderlands 2, not only to make guns look even better, but also to allow players to identify their quality at a glance. The new system will allow for reflective patterns, improved textures and transparency on guns. The example used by Gearbox was a wooden Jakobs rife, which was scuffed and had a worn look, compared to a shiny, gold-plated rifle.
A brand new manfacturer is also going to be joining the ranks. The new “Bandit” brand of guns are unique to the Bandit enemies in the game, and will feature the larget magazines of any company.
Finally, there’s going to be wider variety of unique weapons in the game, and these can also come with some rather interesting features like custom decals and accessories. Again, Gearbox gave a rather interesting example; lets say you kill Nine-Toes from the first game and pick up his gun. Now, that gun might have his missing digit strapped to it as a keepsake.
And to top it all off, everyones favorite robot will be returning. Despite the vault hunters thrashing his butt during his Robolution, his view on things is a little different; he doesn’t blame the vault hunters for what happened. No, he blames those evil bastards at Hyperion. Therefore, you’re not the only one that’s going to fighting Hyperion; Claptrap will fighting them as well, and you’re going to meet him quite a few times on your journey.
So there we have it; you’re guide to everything you need to know about Borderlands 2, until Gearbox release even more details on their mammoth game.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little preview, but remember that all credit goes to Game Informer. Check out their website at: http://www.gameinformer.com/ where they’re promising plenty more news on Borderlands 2, as well as interviews and videos.